Cross Team Communication for Technical Writers
If you’ve ever read documentation written by a programmer, it will become clear pretty fast that creating user guides requires a whole different set of skills. Sure, programmers might have the necessary knowledge base, but most of them aren’t very apt in communicating the information in a user-friendly manner. Thus, the user guides they create are usually hard to read and comprehend.
It’s becoming more and more evident for companies that they need a team of technical writers to take on a documentation task.
However, most of the times, the documentation team is kept isolated from the other teams, although cross communication and collaboration are vital to fulfill an assignment adequately.
Just think about it: if your technical writing team is isolated, how can it be able to deliver documentation for products if they are not fully involved in the entire process?
It’s a hard task to ask of them, especially during a sprint, when development is still not complete, and writers often have to create documentation on an unfinished product.
That’s why, you must keep your technical writers in the loop.
Tech Writers Are Full-Fledged Members of the Team
Tech writers are a vital part of your team and have just as much to do with the product you are creating as your developers, QAs, and designers. In fact, tech writers need to be in constant communication with other departments to do their jobs efficiently. Think about it this way:
- If you involve them in the sprint planning, they could establish tasks where additional documentation might be needed;
- If you want your tech writers to create proper documentation, then you should coordinate them with the development and testing teams;
- The documentation should serve as a marketing tool, so here we go — a marketing team should be in touch with tech writers, as well. In case this is a new idea for you, read this article called Technical Writing as a Marketing Tool to figure out how to make your user guides more profitable.
Communication Is Everything
You should encourage active listening. It’s one thing for your teams to talk to each other, but are they really listening to what is being said? Active listening implies that the receptors understand the information that comes their way. That means no distractions and, perhaps most importantly, not listening just for the sake of providing a comeback.
Disagreements can appear at any time, but it’s vital for your teams to know they can express their opinions freely and in a friendly matter. At the end of the day, they all depend on each other to do a good job, so they should know how to listen to each other and consider every input.
Optimize the Process
No matter how well the teams can talk and listen to each other, they also need the right tools to communicate properly. Though it’s vital to have meetings where you brief teams on projects and plans, that can’t be the only way they can talk. Other means such as e-mails and phone calls are fine, but they won’t do much regarding efficiency, especially when you have more than 2–3 people communicating.
Instead, you should be considering a communications app designed for this purpose. Even some help authoring tools provide this feature, and they’re great for keeping everyone updated with the steps of a project. You can check out ClickHelp as an example of a HAT providing a lot of features for team communication and management.
Conclusion: It Works to Your Benefit
Documentation is not just the final piece of the puzzle, and especially not one you can do last minute. If you want teams from different departments to collaborate efficiently, then you need to ensure that they can communicate easily. Only then, you’ll begin to see improvements.
Good Luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team — Online Documentation & Technical Writing Tools
Originally published at https://clickhelp.com.